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Sin’s Impact on Mental Health

According to a 2019 article, the mental health of teenagers is at risk.  Based upon a recent study, 15% of teenagers seriously consider taking their own life.  Another 12% actually make a plan to commit suicide.  Nearly 8% of teens make at least one attempt to implement their plan.  Meanwhile, 2% of these botched attempts of suicide result in medical intervention.  This healthyplace.com piece has motivated me to contemplate sin’s impact on mental health.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; the mind of the flesh [with its sinful pursuits] is actively hostile to God. It does not submit itself to God’s law, since it cannot, and those who are in the flesh [living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses] cannot please God, Romans 8:5-8.

According to the apostle Paul, sin’s initial impact influences minds.  Human minds serve as a bodies compass.  When minds fixate on fleshly desires. decisions gravitate toward pleasing your own body.  Meanwhile, individuals whose minds are directed by biblical principles are more likely to listen and obey God’s still small voice via the Holy Spirit.  Inside of human beings there is a spiritual gravitational pull, tugging at hearts and minds.  The hardest part of this decision making process is that sinful pursuits gradually results in minds actively hostile toward to God.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives? 10  “I, the Lord, search and examine the mind, I test the heart, to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds, Jeremiah 17:9-10.

An Old Testament prophet adds to sin’s impact on mental health in the passage above.  Known as the weeping prophet after proclaiming bad news given directly to him from God, Jeremiah reveals another troubling problem.  Human hearts are deceitful and extremely sick.  Jesus expands upon this diagnosis in Luke 6:43-45.  Mouths speak out of the overflow of your heart.  Depending upon what your heart stores up inside will reflect your vocabulary, the content of your words.  Thus, anyone who holds on to roots of bitterness will negatively influence and impact your mental health.

However, you are not [living] in the flesh [controlled by the sinful nature] but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God lives in you [directing and guiding you]. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him [and is not a child of God]. 10 If Christ lives in you, though your [natural] body is dead because of sin, your spirit is alive because of righteousness [which He provides]. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Romans 8:9-11.

Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul points to daily spiritual decisions, who or what are you going to live for?  You don’t have to live in bondage to a flesh that craves humanism, whatever feels good must be good.  However, those who possess any empty heart, void of any meaning have an option to choose life by becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus.  Yet, words mean nothing until you act upon your faith.  Therefore, if you are tired of feeling spiritually dead, may the power of the Holy Spirit free you from sin’s impact on mental health.

by Jay Mankus

Fulfilling the Common Good

Good is one of those words that is overused.  As absolutes are becoming replaced by opinions fueled by cable news and talk radio, what is good and what is bad varies.  In the days of the Old Testament, Judges began to do what was right in their own eyes, removing the Bible as a measuring stick.  Similar to modern day humanism, anything that feels natural is deemed good.  On the other hand, anything that results in unpleasant experiences is considered bad.  Those who adopt this mentality place self seeking endeavors above the common good.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

During the first century, there was some confusion due to how God was allocating spiritual gifts among church members.  Apparently, jealousy distracted Christians from accomplishing the common good for society.  People who were blessed with special abilities that demonstrated God’s extraordinary powers were placed in higher esteem that those with more traditional gifts like discernment and hospitality.  This rift within Corinth inspired the apostle Paul to remind believers that without displaying love, spiritual gifts are meaningless, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Each of us… must rededicate ourselves to serving the common good.  Our individual fates are linked, our futures intertwined.  And if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit, together, as the Bible says, we can move mountains,” President Jimmy Carter 1978.

Jimmy Carter is the last evangelical Christian to hold the presidency of the United States.  Although most Americans would refer to the Carter presidency as a failure, this man has held a higher calling.  Known for his service to Habitat for Humanity, founded in his home state of Georgia, Carter has embraced the concept of providing homes for the homeless.  While most former presidents end up going on book tours, concentrate on speaking engagements or traveling the world, Carter volunteered his time to build homes.  The quote above serves as a great example of what it means to fulfill the common good.  Just as the city of Babel came together with a common purpose to erect a tower, Christian’s united under one spirit can move mountains.

by Jay Mankus

Character Education

As societies evolve, the meaning of words change to reflect this evolution.  In the early stages of American history, character referred to personality, nature and qualities.  One of the synonyms for character is ethos, where we derive the Greek term ethics.  Ethics is the system of philosophy where individuals develop their basis for defining right and wrong.  Today, character education focuses on an initiative to foster global citizenship.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out, Proverbs 10:9.

Based upon the United Nations global education initiative, character education is based upon three core philosophies: humanism, socialism and utilitarianism.  Utilitarianism teaches actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority.  Socialism advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.  Finally, humanism denies the presence of a Creator, seeking solely rational ways of solving human problems.  Signed by former president Obama, this curriculum is now being implemented into public education within K-12 schools across the country.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

When I first heard of Character Education on the Rush Limbaugh Show, I thought this sounds good, a step in the right direction.  Yet, as I began to hear and read more about this as a former teacher, I was horrified.  This attempt to erase the biblical influences within the foundation of America is unsettling.  Nonetheless, unless parents begin to challenge what their children are being taught, the true history of America will be forgotten.  May this blog awaken believers to stand up to this indoctrination by studying and teaching God’s divine intervention upon the founding fathers of this country.

by Jay Mankus

 

Understanding Evil

As someone who has grown to love history, you can likely predict what will happen in the future based upon previous events.  Although past civilizations may have possessed good intentions, the temptation for control, fame and power has a way to side track the most disciplined individuals.  Subsequently, enticement opens the door for evil to corrupt formerly innocent souls.  This shocking reality is where understanding evil begins.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time, Genesis 6:5.

In the years leading up to the biblical flood, a spirit of wickedness spread throughout the earth.  While specific acts aren’t mentioned, murder, violence and war are assumed based upon the accounts within Genesis 4.  As human beings gave into every kind of inclinations, cravings, desires and feelings, hearts became set on evil.  Without any voice of truth holding people accountable, humanism was conceived by doing what’s right in your own eyes.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Today, a similar culture exists where absolutes are considered old-fashioned, stale and not worth the hassle to follow.  When rules become lax in any society, integrity, morality and values tend to decline.  If this trend continues for years or decades, you can easily recognize this in day to day interactions.  This environment allows evil to enter souls through compromise.  When confronted by an authority figure, evil is often discarded by justifying and rationalizing behavior.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

When it comes to explaining the New York City terrorist attack with a dump truck, some are inspired by extreme religious beliefs.  Mass shootings like in Las Vegas and the small church outside of San Antonio, Texas typically reveal some sort of troubled past.  Like a fuse waiting to go off, evil takes over at some point, paralyzing the human conscience.  This sets the stage for disaster.  Until conviction, truth and revival return, evil will continue to reign throughout segments of society.  Only when souls ask God to return can evil be defeated.  May the presence of evil today inspire individuals to open their hearts to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Films that Persuaded a Generation

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

While cable television first became available in 1948, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that the Home Box Office was made available to greater metropolitan areas.  About the same time, 1982, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released nationally in theaters.  After going undercover in 1981 at Clairemont High in San Deigo, California, Cameron Crowe received the material he needed to complete this script.  Subsequently, this film persuaded a generation of teenagers to alter their values.  Instead of falling in love, sex became the ultimate goal of a relationship, fueling the sexual revolution that began at Woodstock.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body, 1 Corinthian 6:18.

2. Animal House

Four years earlier, National Lampoon magazine created a movie based upon Chris Miller’s experiences as a fraternity member of Alpha Delta Phi at Dartmouth College.  Additional influences came from Harold Ramis and producer Ivan Reitman during similar encounters of fraternity life in college.  Although this comedy was meant to laugh at these endeavors, a generation of college students were inspired to emulate similar practices.  Since art often imitates life, ethics, faith and morality are being discarded or put on hold until fantasies and the pleasures of this world have been satisfied.

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever, 1 John 2:17.

3. Fatal Attraction

This final film is geared toward adults, for those individuals who have considered, contemplated or fallen into an extramarital affair.  In the 1987 thriller, Michael Douglas hooks up with a woman, Glenn Close, when his wife and daughter are away for the weekend.  When Close becomes obsessed with Douglas, this fatal attraction takes a toll on his life and marriage.  While couples initially flocked to the theaters to salvage their marriage, conviction and guilt did not last long.  Nearly thirty years later, fatal attractions seem to be a weekly occurrence either in high schools, college or the work place.  Somewhere along the way, these three films have persuaded a generation to abandon Judeo-Christian values for humanism, secularism or to satisfy worldly desires.  May a new film or movement shift the tides of change to prevent Americans from slipping closer over the edge toward hell.

by Jay Mankus

 

God isn’t the Solution?

As the print media tries to survive in an age of instant information, journalists are encouraged to write provocative pieces.  Such is the case of this week’s headline in the New York Daily News, “God isn’t fixing this.”  The premise of this article is based upon two opposing worldviews, Theism verse Secularism Humanism.  After several conservative politicians offered thoughts and prayers in response to the San Bernardino shooting, liberals are demanding actions, not words.  Thus, the title suggests God isn’t the solution.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! – Isaiah 1:15

According to Webster’s Dictionary, humanism is any system of thought or action concerned with the interests or ideals of people characterized by an emphasis on human interests rather than religion.  In the mind of those who think government is the answer or solution to life’s problem, God isn’t fixing America’s problems.  Thus, Communists, Progressives and Socialists believe gun control is the ticket, the cure to eliminating crime.  The main flaw is if officials get their way, only the criminals will gain access to guns, leaving law abiding citizens defenseless, without anything to protect their families.

However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you, Deuteronomy 28:15.

On the other side of the worldview spectrum is Christian theism, holding to Judeo-Christian values.  Instead of trusting in science or self, this ideology leans on God’s understanding, rather than trusting in man.  This blind faith baffles those who deny God’s existence.  Thus, the debate commences on whether or not prayers can fix America’s current situation.  Beyond the realm of prayer, you must consider blessings and curses.  If America continues to reject God, move away from their with alliance Israel and disobey the Bible’s commands, then words of the Daily News will become a self-fulfilled prophecy.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Way Verses Today

I tend to be directionally challenged.  However, I’m also careful not to trust the opinion of another man at a gas station who seems uncertain.  While GPS is a nice modern device to rely on, when it starts to recalculate, the question is which way should I go?

And asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem, Acts 9:2.

Philosophically speaking, should you follow your heart, mind or the newest teaching?  Worldviews like Humanism, New Age and Post-Modernism have convinced many former believers to leave the Way for religions of today.  Concerned leaders of the church are wondering, what can be done to reverse this trend?

No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people, Acts 5:13.

One of the reasons for this mass exodus is a lack of genuine Christians within America.  I know I’m just as guilty as the next person, leaving a trail of hypocrisy behind.  As people are rubbed the wrong way, parents are staying home on Sunday.  Subsequently, a generation of children are growing up without a faith experience.  Thus, the Way of the Bible is fighting a losing battle.  May the Holy Spirit spark young people today to leave an imprint of love on a culture desperately waiting for the Real Thing.

by Jay Mankus

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